Mark Fisher has been elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) by the group’s board of directors. He’s been serving as interim president of the group since the November 2012 retirement of longtime head Crossan “Bo” Andersen, who was appointed president in January 1999.
The not-for-profit EMA is a leading trade organization in the home entertainment industry, representing mostly retailers and distributors of physical as well as digital media. Its member companies operate approximately 35,000 retail outlets in the United States and 45,000 around the world that sell and/or rent DVDs, computer and console video games, and digitally distributed versions of these products. The EMA was known as the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) prior to merging with the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) in April 2006.
“The members of the EMA’s Board of Directors have been impressed with Mark’s dedication and passion throughout his tenure at EMA, and his leadership of the organization as interim president the past five months,” said Bob Geistman, EVP, sales and marketing, of Ingram Entertainment and Chairman of the Board of the EMA. “Mark demonstrated he was the best person for the job by growing the membership, developing a new strategic direction for the Association, and fostering a fresh sense of energy among the staff.”
"EMA's mission is a solid one,” Fisher said. “We'll continue to support the retailing of physical DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and video games while we also continue to embrace and add companies engaged in retailing and distributing content through digital distribution. We'll host bigger and better forums such as our Independent Product Market and Digital Media Pipeline as we add content addressing this expanded membership into these events. And, our initiatives to bring order and efficiencies to the digital distribution of home entertainment content couldn't be more important at this stage of life.
At the same time, Fisher added, the EMA will continue to work to protect its members' rights for legal commerce through lobbying, public awareness and other legislative efforts.
Fisher joined the VSDA as Vice President of Membership in 1999, shortly after Andersen took charge. He was promoted to EVP in 2009. Fisher expanded the scope of EMA’s membership from mostly video rental stores to a broad representation of retail sellers and renters of home video and video games in all formats and delivery methods.
“EMA's workgroups, including leading digital retailers and distributors, have been developing best practices, standards, and specs to ‘tame the wild west’ of digital distribution and pave the way to efficient growth,” Fisher said. “We are now working with content providers and other industry associations to increase adoption of these standards in the marketplace. And our three keystone events -- Independent Product Market, Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, and Digital Media Pipeline -- bring the industry together for networking and efficient business discussions."
Prior to joining the VSDA, Fisher was SVP of Retail Operations for West Coast Entertainment, where he was responsible for in-store and field management as well as warehousing and distribution for the 240-store chain. He began his career in 1975 as a store manager for a large supermarket chain. Starting in 1982, he assumed responsibility for the field operations of all general merchandise and health and beauty care departments in Stop & Shop Supermarket Company's Connecticut Division. In 1985, Fisher developed the video rental division of Stop & Shop, which ultimately grew to 60 stores.
"It's a great time to be in the home entertainment industry,” Fisher said. “There's never been a sign that the consumer's appetite for content has waned. Discs are accessible in more locations than ever before, and digitally delivered content and portable and mobile players expand the time and space that consumers have to enjoy home entertainment. New technology and new business models are announced almost weekly. The industry is poised for renewed growth, and, as its membership grows, EMA is poised to strengthen itself."